It is estimated that up to 51 percent of business start-ups by women are at the risk of closing down within the first two years due to challenges inherent in the market space. This however could be avoided by encouraging women to utilize online tools to grow their businesses.
Speaking at a recently launched forum by Facebook tagged #SheMeansBusiness, Facebook’s Small & Medium Business (SMB) Sales Manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), Abi Williams disclosed that this formed the basis for the birthing of the initiative that is designed to inspire and train female entrepreneurs across the country to build, grow and start their own businesses.
She further cited a recent study conducted by Development Economics on behalf of Facebook in 2017, stating that businesses set up by women in Nigeria over the next five years, hold the key to unlocking N19.7 billion for the economy, with the opportunity of creating a further 8.9 million additional jobs.
Buttressing on this, Facebook Public Policy Director for Africa, Ebele Okobi, emphasized on the role of women in entrepreneurial growth in the Nigerian economy. “We know that when women do better, economies do better. The study conducted by Development Economics further highlights this, with research suggesting that an estimated 7 million new businesses could be set up by women in Nigeria by 2021, placing a greater importance on the role of women’s entrepreneurial ambitions for overall economic and social development in the country.”
Partnering with She Leads Africa (SLA), #SheMeansBusiness Nigeria is the first to launch in Sub-Saharan Africa and will bring together thousands of female entrepreneurs in a series of day workshops and training sessions across six cities in Nigeria, including Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Abuja and Aba. With applications opened on March 27, 2018 at sheleadsafrica.org/shemeansbusiness, training sessions will then be followed by post-training clinics aimed at re-engaging, advising and mentoring participants.
As part of the launch, a dedicated #SheMeansBusiness website has also been developed and features inspiring stories from female trailblazers who are following their dreams. These are the entrepreneurs who are redefining what’s possible for women in business in Nigeria – inspiring those who might one day become new entrepreneurs themselves.
It also contains free tools and resources, which include Apps and online courses to give more women across Nigeria the tools, support and practical advice they need to grow their businesses.
The site further grants access and information to a link of communities who can help advise and direct on setting and achieving business goals.
Commenting on the partnership and trainings Co-Founder of She Leads Africa, Afua Osei, added: “We’re excited to continue our partnership with Facebook to expand access to the digital skills necessary to move African businesses forward. We know that with the right tools and support, African women can compete on a global level and we look forward to taking these critical digital tools to entrepreneurs all across Nigeria.”
Expressing her enthusiasm in the ability of women in Nigeria, Abi Williams further stated: “In Nigeria, women form the backbone of a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the number of new women-owned small business Pages on Facebook increasing by 319 percent between 2016 and 2017. #SheMeansBusiness aims to empower personal business ambitions and create opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs in Nigeria to meet and learn from others.”
According to Facebook’s Public Policy Programs Manager, EMEA, Sherry Dzinoreva, #SheMeansBusiness brings to the table, connection , inspiration and ideas. “It is all about creating opportunities for women who are running their own businesses and partnering with SLA to train other women who want to start their own businesses.”
During a panel discussion at the launch of the initiative, some of the women that own their SMBs shared their experiences. Those that formed the panelists included Founder, Mamalette, maternal in infant health educator, Anike Lawal; CEO/Founder, Fashpa, an online fashion outfit, Honey Ogundeyi and Founder, Naphtali Party Rentals, Bella Adeniran.
Some of the SMB challenges highlighted include funding, not being sure of how and where to start and not being fully prepared for the ensuing task of building the business.
However, participants shared the needs that drove them into setting out, and attributed it to desire to make money; desire to create jobs for others and need for flexibility to attend to other needs at home.